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The Penguin History of New Zealand Paperback – 13 Oct 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Paperback, 13 Oct 2003
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Product details

  • Paperback: 564 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (NZ); Reprint edition (13 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143018671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143018674
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 4.4 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Michael King, who was tragically killed in 2004, was one of New Zealand's leading historians. Over three decades he wrote or edited more than 30 books, most of them New Zealand history or biography. He won a wide range of awards for this work, including the New Zealand Book Award for Non-fiction, the Wattie Book of the Year (twice), the Montana Medal for Non-fiction and, in 2003, an inaugural Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement. He was a contributor to the prestigious Oxford History of New Zealand and wrote for all five volumes ofThe Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Dr King taught or held fellowships at seven universities in New Zealand and other countries, including Georgetown University in Washington DC, where he was Visiting Professor of New Zealand Studies. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having spent a month in New Zealand earlier this year I read Michael King's book when I got back to the daily grind. The blurbs on the back of the Kiwi edition seem to indicate that it is the seminal one-volume history of New Zealand. Not having read any other history of NZ I can't say how seminal it is, but it does give a comprehensive, clear and comprehensible description of New Zealand's development as a state and as a nation (or nations?).

King's writing is straightforward and pleasant, foregoing the staid formalism of more academic works; although occasional offhandedness seems a little too breezy. That shouldn't take away from the breadth and depth of the work, however. King's angle seems to be that the central problem for, and function of, the state, particularly as the years roll on, is to reconcile the differing views, mores, cultures, norms and, most importantly, concepts of property, of Maori and white New Zealander (Pakeha). Whether or not this is too revisionist a view I don't know.

Other subjects are well-covered too, particularly the peculiarly strong devotion to Empire, the role of war in forging a national, or at least Pakeha, consciousness, and the repeatedly disastrous consequences for the natural environment of human colonisation, memorably described as "future eating".

There seemed to be a couple of lacunae, although these may well stem from the fact that the book is intended for a New Zealand readership which has at least the most basic understanding of New Zealand's history - i.e. I may well be barking up the wrong tree. For instance, as I understand it, the Muldoon era was marked by divisiveness caused in part by Muldoon's power of personality. There's no real sense of this in the book.
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Format: Paperback
It seems I'm writing this review a long time before the book is published. Well, don't worry, I do have the book... I bought it on arrival in New Zealand to read during my travels there.
Various reviews I have read of this book describe it as the ultimate review of New Zealand's history, and that the author Michael King who was one of the leading New Zealand historians before sadly dying in 2004, was the leading authority having written many books on his country's history.
And sure enough the book doesn't disappoint. It catalogues the history of New Zealand from initial settlement (well, at least the various theories of the initial settlements) right through to the current government. My main reason for getting this book was to learn more about the Maori interaction with British settlers and that was covered superbly.
I found this to be a very readable history book, not too dry, yet not too analytical either. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having arrived in New Zealand from a conference and tourist visit to Australia, as I arrived in Rotorua I realised how little I knew about NZ history- even less than the Australia I had studied at school some +40 years before. The Maori history had not even been mentioned in Auckland, where I arrived and spent a couple of days before moving on to one of the places I really wanted to see - with its hot springs etc ... (did geography at "A" level). So it was a great pleasure to stop at the Rotorua Museum bookshop and see this book displayed. Aha, I thought, just what I want, but no way was I going to carry 500+ pages of book around with for the rest of my holiday. So I took the details and bought it on Kindle when I got back home (cheaper than the hard copy!).

It's taken me a year to get around to reading it - but once started, I read it in a week (and it's a big book, covering a huge subject). Fascinating, endlessly readable, and I was absolutely shocked by the fact that the author, erudite and knowledgeable as he obviously was, and able to put the story into layman's terms and still make it all interesting ... had died in a car accident only about a year after this book's publication.

For anyone wanting more than an overview, but not so dry an historical tome as such a history might present, I can only recommend highly. A more knowledgeable person might well be able to pick holes in it, but it gave me what I was looking for.

I must say, I found all the kiwis I met delightful - friendly and helpful, and this book goes a long way to showing me why they are like this. I don't usually write reviews, or indeed, buy anything but free kindle books these days as I have so many to read already, but I made an exception for this, and it is was well worth the purchase.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a frequent visitor to New Zealand, I found that this book gave an insight into the factors that make this country so different, particularly in respect to the interfaces between Maori and Pakeha. Inevitably, a history will reflect subjective interests, and I would have liked more material on the gold rushes, and their impact on he economy and sociology of the country, and the relationship between NZ and Australia. Overall, this is an excellent grounding on the subject and will inspire further reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating study that includes some analysis that is wonderfully different from what you normally get in books on early modern and modern history. The DNA study of rats, for example, was something I was not expecting, while the description of the arrival of the first Europeans was entertaining.
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